The strategic decision regarding Iran is the decision of our generation. Israel has not faced such an important and difficult decision since it decided to build the Dimona facility.
If Israel acts against Iran prematurely, the implications could be dramatic. An eternal war with Tehran, an immediate war with Hamas and Hezbollah, tens of thousands of missiles on dozens of cities in Israel.
If Israel is late to act in Iran, the implications could be critical to our survival. A nuclear bomb in the hands of fanatic Muslims could change our life entirely and could shorten our life span.
So the decision regarding Iran must be made with a clean conscience and a clear mind. It must not be mixed with personal interests, ulterior motives and rising emotions. The government must make the decision on Israel's fate in a profound debate, an organized process and a secure area.
Look around you- the debate is not profound, the procedure is not organized, the area isn't secure. Dangerous radioactive substances are spilling dangerously into the public arena.
On the one hand, the prime minister and defense minister are not being straightforward with the nation. On the other hand a bunch of senior defense officials are using a bunch of senior media figures to ram the prime minister and defense minister.
While this is happening, public reports, premature reports and exaggerated reports are being published prominently. While this is happening, simplistic and unilateral warnings are being made. No debate is being held on the issue as a whole and there is no understanding of its immense complexity. National security has suffered substantial damage. The national strategy has been sabotaged. Israel has been plunged into a chaotic spin. A nuclear contamination is spreading through the land.
Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, intelligent, honest men, object to an immediate attack on Iran. They both think what happened here this week is extremely grave. Neither of them can remember such reckless action ever being taken on such a sensitive issue in Israel. If this week's norms were the '80s norms, Sadam Hussein would have had a nuclear bomb. If this week's norms were the '60s norms there wouldn't be a Dimona.
A state cannot be run and governed with recklessness. A state cannot be defended superficially. If Israel wants to live, it must not confuse between the public's right to know and Iran's right to know. The decision of the generation cannot be made the way the generation likes to make decisions - by sending text messages to "Survivor."
The public debate on Iran should be handled differently.
For the past decade it has been clear that we are facing an Iranian deadline. Time after time the deadline has been put off. But it is real and it is imminent. Unless an international miracle, or an interior-Iranian miracle takes place, we will reach the crossroads.
When we stand at the crossroads we will have two options - prevention or deterrence. To launch a military offensive or to emerge from nuclear ambiguity. One way or another, all chaos will break loose in the Middle East. One way or another, all chaos will break loose in Israel. What was will be no more. A new era will begin.
So the debate we must have now is not whether to send the bombers before the sky is covered with clouds. The debate we must have is whether the Israeli government has spread a diplomatic Iron Dome over Israel, to protect it in the hour of truth. Has it moderated the conflict and reduced the occupation and stabilized the border? Has it won the world's heart? Has it united the people? Has it prepared the homefront? Is Israel ready for a challenge the like of which it has not faced since 1948?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are not hallucinatory twins, war-mongering in closed rooms. They may be wrong, but they are not frivolous. They are conducting the campaign against Iran seriously.
So the real question we must ask the two is not whether they are hastening to create a new strategic situation here. The question is, have they prepared Israel properly for the new strategic reality. That is what we can talk about. That is what we should talk about. This crucial matter must be acted on swiftly.
קראו כתבה זו בעברית: שיקולים זרים בדיון על איראן